Telephone, Avenches, Switzerland
Ring ring/ Liddell Hart to Obama. Stay the course. Putin on the loose? Loose more sanctions. Attack the economic and any other entrenched psychological balance first. Is that weakness? No, it is strength; and wisdom. Add strategic arming in modern ways, and an enemy's behavior may modify before overt force is needed. Opponents are already using this Liddell Hart approach to their advantage against the West, see http://newsweekpakistan.com/how-the-taliban-are-winning/. It has been noticed as effective, even with Hart's early cynical view of war's solving the problem of surplus civilians, thus hard to unseat as a tactic, see http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/21/the-way-we-fight-max-boot-s-invisible-armies.html
Context: A president. A president pursuing change in an opponent's behavior, by a) focused indirection, combined with b) measured arming in contemporary ways, and c) sanctions; instead of puffing or attacking first and figuring out what to do with "victory" later. Ignoring history, some say that we need decisive action, meaning overt and immediate forceplay as the (weak) endgame, heads swiveling to the past and what, in their own experience, used to work.
Or did it?
1. Examine the usual suspects in argument:. Opponents of "mere" sanctions ask, Which way is this president going? We have paid for armies! Weapons! We must brandish! Indirection is weak. Man up! Holding cards close to chest is aloof, self-centered. Preserving options, holding open exit ramps both sides. Spineless. Fox has fits. Discomfort when absolutes are not imposed or imposable.
They forget that we started the first Gulf War using appropriate analyses, see http://www.mindef.gov.sg/safti/pointer/back/journals/1998/Vol24_1/6.htm
a. Some short answers:
- Indirection has been the soundest military and political policy in history for long term stability over the long term, to the consternation of bombardiers and other direct assaulters of any age.
- Combine the measured indirection with actions designed to undermine the opponent's morale and supply, and military and political goals may be accomplished while minimizing the need for confrontive battles.
- The religious arena parallels the instability of the political-military. In the religious arena, the reversion of Christianity to brute force,instead of voluntary following of a way of life, to lock in converts and conformity to an institutional ideology, resulted in Inquisitions, religious wars, sectarianism, that continues today.
"More and more clearly has the fact emerged that a direct approach to one's mental object, or physical objective, along 'the line of natural expectation' for the opponent, has ever tended to, and usually produced, negative results.*****"Continuing by summary at pages 4-6, to attack on the line of natural expectation is more likely to firm up the enemy's resolve and cohesion, and resistance. Accordingly, mere force and resources are not enough to bring victory. A victor must also, and even more importantly, destabilize morale, control, and supply in advance of the application of force, if force is indeed needed. And unbalaning comes through, yes, sanctions as a primary tool, timely and effectively applied.
b. And a longer one.
Good ideas, like the effectiveness of indirection combined with measured destabilizing, get shelved because of lack of glamor, no sound bites, no film clips, and of time passing and disinterest when emergencies fade. As on Morning Joe, see how long by the clock you have to wait before someone parrots talking points. Click away immediately/
The fading of an idea, such as the value of indirection instead of confrontation, does not necessarily signify lack of merit. It may reflect the self-interest of the commentators: Those who limit their wisdom to their own experience ask, What do we do with ourselves, our sense of worth, what of our jobs, if war is no longer macho?
And the mentally coralled head talkers will never let that happen. Is that so? Their identity and future as candicates make them bound like little feet. Listen to them: Polls support this, polls support that. Is this so, instead: that polls measure only the effectiveness of a spun partisan message repeated until absorbed by the vulnerable, not necessarily an assessed merit of idea. Do polls merely serve the man currently balancing on top?
Salzburg, Austria. Sphaera, by Balkenhol. The fragility of trying to stay on top.
Compare that one-note preoccupation with status to the mind of Liddell Hart, decades ago, that swiveled on its neck easily through traditions of warfare from early western history through the 20th Century wars. His principles apply today if only necks would turn to look.
3. Rethink Sanctions:
Proposal. Stay the course. Use sanctions even more widely as a means of affecting behavior, morale, the unbalancing. Add messaging, and wise, focused provision of appropriate arms.
Failure to apply sanctions in a timely and effective way enabled the WWII guru to succeed long enough to, and in ways that still, support the ideal memory. What? We did something wrong?
Sanctions. Take the idea seriously. Sanctions even decades ago were seen as a careful targeted use of economic pressures to change behavior, not turning to wars as first recourse. It must be coupled, however, with the real conundrum: What use of targeted arms, who provides what to whom, what works in a modern age of secrets and intelligence-gathering. What maneuvers in the shadows, strategical operations, that bear no overt resemblance to formal attack. Dislocation. Creating uncertainty. Aim where the enemy does not expect, the line of "least expectation," http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/126431/b-h-liddell-hart/strategy-the-indirect-approach
"In almost all the decisive campaigns the dislocation of the enemy's psychological and physical balance has been the vital prelude to a successful attempt at his overthrow."And if behavior changes reasonably satisfactorily as a result, there is no need for overthrow. Perhaps/ Stability.
And that takes funding to get a message across, while others maneuver through a line of lesser expectation.
4. Enough sanctions are indeed decisive actions.
What? You say even Hitler could have been stopped earlier, with sanctions firmly applied and early? Combined with careful application of arms to allies? But they were paralyzed, you say? How did Hitler do that? With advance work, behind the lines work, with careful and plausible propaganda, induce fear, spin, sloganeer, focus on masses not intelligentsia for the message, oppose, obstruct, duck debate, repeat.
5. How to turn the old liners.
5.1 Opponents are wed to their past. Rebuild the traditional army, say some.
5.3 The old guard cannot swivel, is that so? Are they tethered? See the sugarplums of past military memory bind us now.
We are the guy in the white hat. Please say, we are the guy in the white hat, coming in the nick of time to WIN.
4. Conclusion so far:
We have forgotten what Mother Germany learned.
Is this determinism by neck. Are some in leadership positions here and elsewhere are so bound by their own cultural tradition, experience and mindset, that their necks are more comfortable looking backward than forward. Those necks no longer support a face looking to the future, nor can they swivel to look around to vet their own beliefs. Those necks dare not reject the monetary and positional rewards that the stiff neck offers.
Let Hart's concepts be part of the discussion. Engaged, purposeful indirection; targeted, careful providing of selected arms, strategic maintenance of many options.